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Tests, Vaccines, Medications, & Masks

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Quick and accurate diagnosis for the H5N1 avian influenza in humans is essential to early treatment. Currently, the available tests require specially-equipped laboratories, and take as long as one or two weeks to obtain  test results.  Recent progress has been made in creating tests that are inexpensive, do not require special laboratories, and can test large numbers of flu samples.  More about testing for H5N1 avian influenza>>


Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to minimize suffering and death from influenza. Research efforts have led to the development of a vaccine for one of the two strains of the H5N1 influenza virus in humans. In the event of a pandemic, it could take months to develop an effective vaccine. Federal officials have drafted a plan that spells out who gets priority for the first vaccinations. Officials are seeking public input on the plan. More about human vaccines for H5N1>>


Research continues into effective antivirals, seeking medications that can reduce the severity of an influenza attack. Antivirals are drugs that are used to prevent or cure a disease caused by a virus, by interfering with the ability of the virus to multiply in number or spread from cell to cell.  Recent increases in the number and promotion of antiviral drugs for influenza have increased interest in the role of specific antiviral drugs for treatment of the flu. Use of antiviral drugs does not eliminate the risk of complications, and some complications can be life threatening. More about medications and antivirals>>


The first things many people think about relative to preparing for a pandemic are masks and respirators. Much incorrect, incomplete, and confusing information about surgical mask and respirator use has been disseminated on the Internet and by other popular media. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued guidance on the use of masks and respirators in an influenza pandemic. More about using masks/respirators in a pandemic>>